South Park Magazine

September 9, 2011

Arthur Ashe's widow speaks: On passion

Acclaimed photographer visited Charlotte recently.

Acclaimed photographer Jeanne Moutoussamy-Ashe, the widow of tennis legend Arthur Ashe, was in town over the summer for an exhibit of her works at the Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture. Raised in Chicago, she had an artistic side that was encouraged by her mother, an interior designer, and her father, an architect. She’s a graduate of the Art Institute of Chicago and The Cooper Union, and her romance and marriage to Ashe is one of the great love stories of the last century. Her first passion has always been photography, though. So much so that she named her only child, a daughter she adopted with Ashe, Camera. Some of her best known work focused on the Gullah community of South Carolina, which she chronicled in “Daufuski Island: A Photographic Essay” (see those photos and more at www.jeannemoutoussamy-ashe.com). Before her exhibit opened, she shared parts of her artistic discipline that everyone can use in pursuing their own passions: Work from the heart. “I tend to shoot and work directly from my heart. If something is going on, it will show up in the pictures,” she says. Find what speaks to you. “I have been seduced by color, but I prefer black and white because in the absence of color, you focus more on shape, content and form.” Stay in the moment. “There’s something new going on around you all the time. If you let your mind take you somewhere else, you end up in the middle of a ‘happening’ and you don’t know what’s happened.” Look at the sunset. “I make it a point to watch the sunset every day because it’s always changing. It’s a reminder that you need to stay present and that every moment is different.” Meditate. “It helps you get rid of the noise in your head that keeps you from being present. That’s a gift that only the discipline of meditation can give you.”

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